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The new web of things has changed the world in various ways. It has changed the way we do business and the way we communicate. It has also greatly impacted the way we read and engage with information.
In the following sections, we look at 24 ways the new web of things is changing the way we read and relate to information.
1. Screen Reading
The evolution of the internet and mobile devices have given birth to a new form of reading called "screen reading". We no longer stare at papers, we now stare at screens. This new method of reading has great impacts on how we process information. In fact, while book reading strengthened our analytical skills, screen reading encourages rapid pattern-making, associating one idea with another, equipping us to deal with the thousands of new thoughts expressed every day.
According to Pew Research Center, 27% of Americans read e-books in 2015, and this number is steadily rising. Some of the reasons for the popularity of e-books over paper books include space savings, cost-cutting and reading ease; the possibility of increasing font size and backlighting in e-readers can help hypermetropic readers read more easily. And surprisingly, people who read e-books seem to read more books than those who read paper books.
With millions of articles released every day, we no longer feel the need to read everything on the page to understand the core of the subject. Instead of focusing on the overall meaning of an article, people instead now tend to "power-browse," searching for keywords by skimming the text.
4. Auditory Reading
With the rise of companies like Audible, iTunes, and YouTube, the internet has given rise to a whole new generation of auditory readers, people who prefer to learn by listening. In fact, over the course of the past three years, the highest growing segment of publishing are audiobooks. The global audiobook industry is currently evaluated at $3.5 billion dollars and the United States is currently the largest singular market with $1.8 billion dollars in audio sales in 2016 and this was a 31% increase from 2015.
After spending more than a decade with volumes of information at our fingertips and with the ability to, in seconds, move from one bit of information to another to yet another, it’s much harder now to engage deeply with any single text. The web is changing most people into superficial-readers. We tend to only look for the things we can understand, and refuse to get bogged down in the difficult passages.
6. Link Flitting
When we read something on the internet we have developed the habit to skim the text rather than read it, constantly distracted by the hyperlinks, which often take us away from the page we’re reading, thereby breaking the flow. We are now accustomed to flitting from one link to another, and most probably never return back to the original article. Most of the people (if not all), tend to read in this fashion on the net.
7. Interactive Reading
The Internet has increased interactive reading. When we don't understand what we read, we immediately "google" and look for the meaning of the terms, words, and expressions. The availability of large amounts of content gives us much wider perspective. It enables us to narrow down the information and reach required information much faster. Interacting with what we read in that way has made most internet users efficient readers.
8. Keyword Reading
The zeal to read a new novel has been taken up by reading articles online. The attention to details has been replaced by searching some keywords in the article and getting a feel of having learned something new.
Skimming is reading a text quickly to get a general idea of meaning. It can be contrasted with scanning, which is reading in order to find specific information, e.g. numbers or names. Internet material is often very easy to skim so that we can pick out the useful facts and ideas. Many people who write for the Internet realize that their readers are not likely to read every word.
All modern web browsers include bookmark features which allow us to store online resources for later retrieval in any of various storage formats. We can now access hundreds of books and articles worth of valuable information, at any given time, in our pockets, instead of having to carry heavy books around. This causes people to bookmark thousands of articles and blogs that they often forget and never return to finish reading them.
11. Blog Reading
The new web of things has given birth to blogs which are often informal diary-style text entries called "posts". It allows people, mostly referred to as "bloggers", to share personal opinions, journeys, and information. Blog readers often enjoy reading posts because of the personal touch. They can interact and engage in discussion with the author which makes for a very customized reading experience.
12. Visual Reading
Visual reading is the ability to construct mental images with words, by using prior knowledge and background experiences. The internet has made us better visual readers. In fact, since we tend to only read subjects of interests, it has enabled us to connect the author's writing with personal pictures.
The internet has given rise to memes. A meme or formally known as a pun (paronomasia), is a form of wordplay that involves exploiting the ambiguous meanings of words. It is a form of "inside" joke that utilizes the combination of a picture and a text designed to make people laugh. It is the text and the picture together that makes everything funny. Meme readers often quickly understand the entire meaning of the meme which allows them to laugh.
14. Comments Reading
On the Internet, we can end up in a direct discussion with the creator(s) of the content that we are consuming. No other medium has such vast powers for connection and discussion. This phenomenon gave rise to commenters and comments readers, people who enjoy reading comments more than the actual article. Comments readers often remain anonymous by not commenting themselves. They prefer scraping through the comments for simple entertainment.
Twitter is a very popular online news and social networking service where users post and interact with messages, known as "tweets." Tweets must contain a maximum of 140 characters to be published. Twitter's popularity has changed the way we read, write and interact with each other by limiting the length of our messages. It has also made hashtags a common social media thing to use.
News on the Internet is astonishingly fast and interconnected. We can learn more from the Internet in the same amount of time than we can from either Radio or Television. This phenomenon has made us become speed-readers. We read on the Internet at many levels of depth. We often feel satisfied with only reading headlines that give us a snapshot of some of the major events that are going on in the world.
Text messaging, or texting, is the act of composing and sending electronic messages, typically consisting of alphabetic and numeric characters, between two or more users of mobile phones, tablets, desktops/laptops, or other devices. They have shaped the way we write and read forcing our brain to read and understand texts abbreviations such as "omg" and "lol".
The new web of things has increased the popularity of quotes. In fact, when things get tough, many people turn to an online motivational quote for a bit of inspiration. The reason why some people find quotes so inspirational is because there’s a little bit of implicit coaching that’s happening when they’re reading it.
In the current digital era where people find online articles, ebooks, and audiobooks more convenient than the conventional paperback, a recent study shows that readers are still using paperbacks, but for different reasons. People now read paperbacks for the touch and smell of a fresh new book, feelings that ebooks cannot provide.
The 2012 Pew Research Center report also shows that U.S. newspaper ad revenue from all sources has been in sharp decline since 2004. While revenue from online sources has increased for some newspapers, it still lags behind that earned by Internet-only news and information providers.
With the rise of the internet, most print magazines have created websites in order to stay the course. Nearly every major print publication has a site available either for free or through subscription. Readers can browse old articles without having to remember in which issue the content first appeared.
The Portable Document Format, better known online as PDF, is a file format developed in the 1990s to present documents, including text formatting and images, in a manner independent of application software, hardware, and operating systems. It is one of the most used formats to share documents online.
Email first entered limited use in the 1960s and by the mid-1970s had taken the form now recognized as email. This form of popular online communication not only allows people to exchange messages using electronic devices but it also allows them to follow-up and keep track of conversations flows which makes it easy to read and understand the full significance of the messages. Emails with replies force our brain to read and analyze texts from bottom to top.